Looking good can lift your spirits and make you feel more attractive. But how do you boost self-esteem when fatigue, limited mobility, poor eyesight, and your budget are in the way?
Here are some ideas and resources:
Have someone take new measurements for the way you stand or sit now. Hemlines, pant legs, garment backs, and shirt sleeves might all need adjustments to make your old favorites workable and comfortable or your new purchases fit properly. Many catalog companies and department stores do alterations. So do many dry cleaners.
- Shortening a jacket a few inches can make a big difference if you’re sitting most of the time.
- If fastening buttons has become a problem, have them sewn onto the outside of shirts or dresses, and have Velcro strips put inside to hold the garment shut.
Explore companies that design clothing specifically for people living with disabilities. Whether you shop in department stores, discount outlets, second-hand shops, through catalogs, or on the Web, remember:
- Bright, flattering colors can really lift your spirits.
- Button- and zipper-free garments are easier to use.
- If you do select a zippered garment, look for large zippers, in the front.
- Fabrics that are soft, non-binding, and washable are a must. Look for Lycra or Spandex in the fiber content.
- If you use a wheelchair, try pants with a shortened waist and a roomier backside.
- Men’s ties are available pre-knotted, clip-on, slip-on, or with a zipper.
- A tailor who can alter business suits could be worth the investment.
While you want to be comfortable, clothes that are long, have flowing sleeves, have extra-wide pant legs, or have voluminous skirts can be annoying or even hazardous if they can become entangled with your mobility aid.
For those who spend time in bed
- Find someone to sew colorful hospital-type gowns for you. The design of ready-mades might be comfortable and practical, but they often are drab.
- Super-soft, washable, stretchable fabrics are important. Satiny fabrics will help you move more easily.
- Choose sheets the same way you choose a scarf or necktie. Look for colors that complement or contrast your coloring or clothing.
For women who have always been shoe addicts, the change to lower-heeled footwear can feel devastating. Guys who can’t wear their beloved sandals or boots might also feel hard-hit.
- Find a local shoe repairer you like and trust.
- Have the heels of your shoes adjusted. Even 1/4” can make a huge difference. Find the heel height that works best for you.
- Have your shoe repairer add leather to or sand down rubber-soled shoes to reduce their stickiness.
- Add straps to shoes or sandals so they won’t slip off.
Other footgear challenges:
- If tying shoes is difficult, try elastic shoelaces, slip-ons, or styles with Velcro fasteners. For women, shoes are available with elastic insets that slip on while the strap is fastened.
- Try a larger, wider shoe for poor leg circulation.
- Save energy with a long-handled shoehorn.
- If you need compression stockings, many styles are now available for men and women. Micro-fiber stockings are the easiest to pull on.
We all know how good the right haircut can make us feel. With MS, consider your energy and your ability to maintain a suggested style.
- Buy a hands-free dryer with a clip that attaches to a wall. Or buy a stand in which you can place your present dryer.
- If blow-drying is impossible, try a hairstyle that you can finish by just running a comb, brush, or your hands through it.
- Ask a family member, caregiver, or best friend for help with shampooing. Or ask your hair-care professional. Some make home visits.
- Try a dry, no-rinse shampoo when you are too tired or no one can help you.
- Consider buying a wig or a hairpiece. It’s a fast way to look good.
- Hair color gives men and women an instant lift. There are many choices—shampoo-in, semi-permanent, or permanent—to be done at home or in a salon. The spray-on, wash-out type gives you a chance to try a color without any permanent effects.
Men, don’t skip this section. A good moisturizer and a brush of bronzing powder, dusted over the face, can give men an instant lift. Give it a try and see.
- Set up an area where you can sit. Rest your elbows on the sink or counter.
- Use a magnifying mirror. Some can be clamped onto the bathroom counter. Others have stands or easel-backs.
- For lip liner and lipstick, simply put the color up to your mouth and follow the contour of your lips. For mascara, put the wand at the base of your eyelash. While holding it there, brush your eyelash against it. Powdered blush can be applied with a light swirl and then smoothed with fingertips.
- If you have trouble with your hands, have someone else fill the brush with powdered foundation or blush for you. One filling will last for several sessions.
- Liquid makeup can be applied with fingertips or a cosmetic sponge. It is the most widely used and easiest to find.
- Combination wet/dry foundation might be the best choice. Use a brush to apply it dry or a moistened sponge to apply it wet.
- Eye makeup comes in powdered, liquid, or pencil forms, but the self-sharpening wand is easier to apply.
- Don’t toss a mascara tube that’s nearly finished. It can be used to darken brows or touch up hair color at the roots.
- To cut your costs, try a dab of moisturizer combined with a dab of lipstick for a blusher.
- A dab of petroleum jelly will give the same effect as lip gloss and keep your lips moist.
Men who shave every day need a good electric shaver, to use while seated in front of a mirror. Rest your elbows on the counter or tabletop for support. Women might find that shaving legs poses special problems. Liquid depilatories might be easier to manage. Men might decide a beard is a good solution. But beards need to be combed, cleaned, and trimmed regularly. There are special electric shavers designed for the job.
Manicures and pedicures
Both men and women benefit from the human touch of a manicure or pedicure, and having someone inspect your hands and feet for cuts or sores could be a boon to your health.
If a professional manicure/pedicure is beyond your budget, area beauty school prices are generally much lower. Or enlist a friend, family member, or caregiver.
Using extra-large nail clippers with a magnifying lens can make trimming easier and safer.
Think of your mobility aid as an extension of your fashion statement. Many wheelchairs and walkers come in bright colors. Ask your vendor. If you’re stuck with a “medical” looking chair, add a great fabric cover to the back.
- Do the most difficult things when you have the most energy.
- Sit to work, even if you are able to stand. Standing takes 8% more energy than sitting.
- Use a tub bench or bath seat in your tub or shower, and purchase a hand-held shower attachment.
- Use long tongs or a reacher to help put on pants or to reach anything below hip level.
- Keep items you need for each daily activity together, and store the most frequently used items between eye and hip level.